Edmonton

Oilsands diluent pipeline partly closed following spill near Fort McMurray

Operator Inter Pipeline Ltd. says it has partially shut down its Polaris pipeline system following a leak detected on Crown recreational land just east of the Fort McMurray airport in northern Alberta.

About 90,000 litres of light oil were released

Inter Pipeline's Heartland Petrochemical Complex is shown under construction in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., in January 2019. Inter Pipeline says its Polaris pipeline system has been partially shut down after a leak near the Fort McMurray airport. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Operator Inter Pipeline Ltd. says it has partially shut down its Polaris pipeline system following a leak detected on Crown recreational land just east of the Fort McMurray airport in northern Alberta.

According to the Alberta Energy Regulator, initial reports indicated about 550 barrels or 90,000 litres of light oil were released with no reported impacts to waterbodies or wildlife.

The pipeline is used to move light petroleum such as condensate from Edmonton to the region where it is used by oilsands companies to dilute heavy bitumen so it will flow in a pipeline to market.

In a report, analysts at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. warned the shutdown, if prolonged, could potentially affect the supply of diluent for steam-driven oilsands projects owned by companies including Imperial Oil Ltd., Husky Energy Inc., Cenovus Energy Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.

On its website, Inter Pipeline says its leak detection systems signalled an anomaly on Saturday morning and its Polaris and Corridor bitumen pipeline systems were shut down. The source was discovered to be Polaris on Monday and the Corridor pipeline was restarted.

The company is in contact with its customers but has not yet identified the cause of the leak, nor does it have an estimate of how long it will take to make repairs and get the line running again, said spokesperspn Breanne Oliver.

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